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The deets November 28, 2013

Posted by Judy in Musings.
Tags: ,

I’m not one to beat around the bush, so I’ll get right to the point.

I have a lump in my breast and it’s going to be biopsied on the 10th. But I should back up a few months.

I’m also able to talk the hind leg off a horse, so be ready for an epistle. 😉

About 6-8 months ago, I had a plugged duct, the first one in six years of nursing. I have to say, I’m glad that I hadn’t had one before, because it was not fun. Whenever a let-down would happen, yeouch! I spent three days applying warm washcloths and massaging during nursing sessions. At the end of the three days, I proclaimed the ducts to be unplugged since I didn’t get crazy pain during let-downs. The area was pretty sore still, but I figured it was from all of the massaging.

Fast-forward a few months and we arrive to 4-6 weeks ago. I noticed a pain in a similar place to where the plugged duct was, but it didn’t feel like a plugged duct. It was sort of sharp, but not like a shooting, stabbing pain.   The best way to describe it is to tell you a story.  When I was in high school, a girl sitting next to me in chapel pierced her ear with a safety pin. She just sat there and slowly pushed the pin through her ear!  Totally crazy, right?!?!  Anyway, that’s the kind of pain I was having . . .a slow, persistent stab. It lasted for about 3 days. Just as I was thinking “I should get this checked out.” it went away. A week or two later the pain came back, and then went away, and then came back, etc. It would be there for 20 minutes, then gone, then return for 3-4 hours, and then gone. As with the first instance, there seemed to be no change during nursing sessions. I kept meaning to make an appointment with the midwife, but then life would happen I wouldn’t get around to it.

Last week, I got a call from a friend in which she shared that she has breast cancer.  It was the kick in the pants I needed to make the phone call. The next day, Friday, I called and was able to get an appointment for that very day. Before heading in, I took a shower, naturally. I discovered that there was a lump/mass on one side, right where the pain was originating. Our bodies are symmetrical, so I checked the other side. There was nothing there. I honestly have no idea if the lump was there the first time I felt the pain 4-6 weeks ago, or if it appeared at a later point. I do know that I noticed it for the first time just shy of a week ago.

The midwife agreed that there was definitely something there and agreed that it could be a persistently plugged duct. She recommended I have an ultrasound to see if that gave us more information. She didn’t want me to do any plugged duct remedies until after the ultrasound, which was on Tuesday (two days ago). She did say if nothing came of the ultrasound, she could talk to the wise nurses at the breastfeeding clinic or talk to the OB’s. Although, in her opinion, the OB’s have no idea what to do with a nursing breast, so that probably would be less helpful than talking with the breastfeeding nurses. She didn’t think a mammogram was necessary since I’m still nursing, but she would defer to the healthcare providers at the breast cancer institute.

Tuesday afternoon rolled around and I walked into the breast cancer institute. It’s a fairly new section of the hospital, maybe two years old and it’s sole focus is the human breast, female and male. I had the ultrasound, and just like the ultrasounds I had when pregnant, I had no idea what I was looking at on the screen. The tech informed me that the radiologist would look at the pictures and either do a further ultrasound or make another recommendation. She made sure to emphasize that “having her do another ultrasound is totally normal.” Uh, okay.

She decided not to do another ultrasound. “In an effort to be thorough, the radiologist would like for you to have a mammogram.” I couldn’t think of a really good reason to protest, so I had the mammogram. I think many of my friends are young enough to not have had a mammogram. If you are in that “never had it” group, let me tell you, they are awful with a capital “A”! Your boob is handled and flopped about like crazy, and then it gets flattened like a pancake. More specifically, your boob is laid on a surface and partially smooshed by the tech, who then lowers this plexiglass like thing onto your breast that very quickly becomes a vise. Not only is your breast smashed flat like a pancake, you have to stand in crazy positions with your arms all funny and you have to hold your breath. This in and of itself is really uncomfortable. Now imagine this happening in an area that is lumped and painful. Seriously, it was worse than childbirth! The tech apologized when we got to the lumpy section. “I’m sorry, this isn’t going to be very comfortable. But you seem to be doing okay, not in pain.” To which I replied, “Oh, no. I’m REALLY good at masking my pain. I’ve been in labor 4 times, and every time, the healthcare professionals didn’t believe I was in labor until I was practically in transition.”

Anyway, that was not the highlight of my day. After the radiologist read the mammo, the tech came in and said the radiologist would be talking to me and a nurse would be coming in with her “which is totally normal.” I’m guessing they say things like that to make you feel less stressed out. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work at all. I sat in the room with my mind racing. A million scenarios were playing out in my head. I was preparing myself for terrible news, and then rehearsing how I would react. It was a very long seven minutes.

The radiologist entered, followed by a nurse. The radiologist asked me to tell her what had been going on with the pain and lump. At the end of my short tale, she tells me that yes, there is definitely a lump. (It made me wonder if people feel imaginary lumps? Why would she need to confirm that there was a lump? Weird!) And she says that the mammo didn’t really show anything conclusive since the breast tissue is quite dense given that I’m young and still nursing. And then I thought to myself, “What was the point of having the mammo if you knew it would be hard to see anything through the dense tissue?” This thought was interrupted by her saying that she wanted to have a biopsy done on the mass. It would either show that it was related to nursing or that it was something else.

So the biospy got scheduled for the 10th, two weeks to the day after the ultrasound/mammo. I got extensive instructions on how to handle nursing after the biopsy, and then I was sent home. After lots of thinking and talking with DH, I’ve sort of decided that I don’t know if I want to do the biopsy. Thinking about the experience at the breast institute, I got the feeling that I was shuttled from one procedure to the next with very little explanation. And it sort of felt like, what was the point of the ultrasound and mammo? Why not just jump straight to the biopsy. On the other hand, is the biopsy really necessary? Couldn’t there be other things that could be done to try to unplug the duct (if indeed it is plugged) before doing a biospy? It sort of felt like all of the procedures were just a CYA type of thing. So at this point, my plan is to talk to the breastfeeding nurses tomorrow to see what their opinion is and if they have thoughts on unplugging a persistently plugged duct.

In my gut, I really don’t think it’s a plugged duct. It has always felt different from the original plugged duct.

-It doesn’t hurt more or less during a let-down.
-It’s a slow, stabbing pain.
– Sometimes it’s a burning pain.
– Sometimes I get numbness going up into my armpit and partly down my arm.

It just doesn’t feel like a plugged duct. But, in my gut, I’m also feeling like a biopsy is overkill for right now. *sigh* I’m not sure what I’m going to end up doing. I have some time to sort it out, talk to my pathologist FIL, talk to my mama, pray, talk to the breastfeeding nurses, talk to the midwife, talk to anyone that might have any advice or an opinion. I’ll update here when I figure out what I’m going to do. Until then, I’d appreciate continued prayers, good thoughts, etc.


1. rlape85 - November 29, 2013

Sweetie I know all this medical procedures can be a bit frustrating, i will talk to you tomorrow when I see you. Will continue praying for healing .

2. Mindy - November 29, 2013

Perla, I wanted you to know I have been praying since you posted you needed prayers. I will continue to pray for wisdom and healing….. I’ve been through similar procedures. Didnt have to go as far as a biopsy but can identify with the rest. Life is unpredictable….. God is our only constant….. I’m sorry you’re going through this.


3. r - November 29, 2013

Lots of good thoughts flowing your way….Hopefully, it will prove to be something minor/benign. In the meanwhile, your concern is totally reasonable, and it’s OK for you to you feel the way you feel. Just know that people out here are pulling for you! *hugs*

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